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Oregon Educator’s Alliance Criticized over Support of Pro-Hamas Curriculum

The teacher’s union of an Oregon school district is drawing scrutiny for promoting the teaching of anti-Zionist propaganda to children as young as five, according to numerous reports.

Last month, as first reported by The Oregonian, the Portland Association of Teachers (PAT) posted an anti-Zionist lesson plan on its website, titled “Know Your Rights! Teaching & Organizing for Palestine Within Portland Public Schools.” Among other things, the document describes Israel as “separatist” and “nationalist” and links opposition to its existence to the entirety of the progressive policy agenda, from the environment to LBGTQ rights and the Black Lives Matter movement.

One section, “Organizing with Students,” also counsels teachers on how to meet up with their students outside of school.

The document even contains a definition of antisemitism written by a far-left group which rules out the possibility that anti-Zionism can be a form of antisemitism and asserts that hatred of Jews is exclusively a Christian European form of racism. It also fails to mention forms of Islamic antisemitism that are anti-Zionist and influenced by German Nazism, which was a secular phenomenon.

“Originating in European Christianity, antisemitism is the form of ideological oppression that targets Jews,” it says. “In Europe and the United States, it has functioned to protect the prevailing economic system and the almost exclusively Christian class by diverting blame for hardship onto Jews.”

The Oregonian also reported that the union posted lesson plans, some of which have since been removed from its website, claiming that Israel is a “settler colonial” state. The materials target children as young as five with themes such as “Woke Kindergarten” and “Lil Comrade Convos.” Others — such as “No Freedom Without Reproductive Freedom for Palestinian Women” and “Renewable Energy in Occupied Palestine” — aim to appeal to high school students.

“After hearing concerns from members around the content of some of these lessons … we’re taking it all off our website,” Angela Bonilla, president of the Portland Association of Teachers, said in announcing the decision, according to the Oregonian. “The concerns of them being one-sided is enough for me to say we have to pause and review … I’m hearing things about these materials I would not have let through.”

Bonilla has not, however, removed “Know Your Rights” from the website. She told the Oregonian that the document was “vetted.”

The Portland Association of Teachers, the paper added, also courted controversy for meeting with a radical anti-Zionist group which distributed pamphlets praising Hamas and implored teachers to promote anti-Zionism in the classroom by displaying flags and wearing t-shirts imprinted with the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The popular slogan among anti-Israel activists has been widely interpreted as a call for the destruction of the Jewish state, which is located between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Local Jewish organizations have criticized the union for promoting political advocacy in the classroom and fostering antisemitism.

“PAT has their narrow agenda,” the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland said in a statement addressing the issue. “This is an effort by the teachers’ union to promote what many feel is a biased and historically revisionist curriculum.”

Antisemitism in K-12 schools is an issue that is drawing increasing attention from Jewish civil rights groups.

“The problem is coming to light as many people realize that K-12 indoctrination is oftentimes the basis for the antisemitism we see on college campuses,” Marci Lerner Miller, attorney for the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, told The Algemeiner earlier this week. “Many students arrive at their first day of college already having been taught to hate Israel and Jews. Addressing K-12 antisemitism helps us get to the root of the problem in many cases. The Office for Civil Rights has taken an interest in investigating it, and Congress recently called the superintendent of the Berkeley Unified School District to testify about what is happening there.”

The Brandeis Center has taken the lead in fighting antisemitism at the K-12 level. This month, it prevailed in its latest civil rights case brought forth on behalf of a North Carolina Middle schooler who was bullied for being “perceived” as Jewish. In February, it filed a civil rights complaint alleging that the Berkeley Unified School District (BUSD) in California has caused severe psychological trauma to Jewish students as young as eight years old and fostered a hostile learning environment.

At several schools throughout BUSD, students were recruited to assist anti-Zionist teachers in cheering Hamas’ atrocities as “liberation,” according to the complaint. They were called on to join “walk outs” and rewarded with excused absences in return for their participation, a violation of district policy forbidding excused absences for all but the most important reasons.

The complaint described how these demonstrations became salvos of antisemitic rhetoric. During one organized at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, students shouted “KKK,” “Kill Israel,” “Kill the Jews,” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” In another incident, a second-grade teacher who threatened a parent instructed her students to write “Stop bombing babies” on sticky notes.

“The Jewish community was slower than we should have been to grasp the threat posed by antisemitism in higher education. Now we’re in danger of repeating the same problem in elementary and secondary education,” Brandeis Center chairman Kenneth Marcus told The Algemeiner. “It is horrifying to acknowledge, but the fact is that the situation in many high schools is starting to replicate some of our most worrisome campuses. Elementary schools are not safe either. One ramification is that college campuses may get even worse, as entering freshmen arrive after having already been indoctrinated while in elementary and secondary schools.”